Thursday, 7 January 2010

Body - I want a Teeny Tiny Dancer's Body!

Over the Chistmas break, a close friend lent me 2 Pilates DVDS. I finally took them out last week after my festive eating binge, more out of desperation rather than resolve.

The first DVD was called “Weight Loss Pilates” by Pilates master trainer Kristin McGee who teaches in Reebok in LA and does private lessons in New York. I liked Kristin McGee’s personable and instructional style. Her routines actually combine Pilates with Yoga and some Ballet movements. She fills the exercise gaps with clear instructions, good tips and a much needed amount of smiling encouragement as her routines are tough to stick to. Her DVD offers 2 sets of 33 minute complete workouts which mean that you only need to spare half an hour each day on her routines. They also comes with a “Cooking Light” recipe book that helps you with overall weight management. See

The second DVD was called “The Tracy Anderson Method Mat Workout DVD”. Tracy Anderson has become the latest household name in celebrity pilates. She was apparently responsible for the current svelte dancer-like bodies of Madonna (who hired her as a personal trainer for the last 3 years till October 09) and Gwyneth Paltrow, now mother of 2 (who shed all her post baby weight after Baby #2 through Tracy’s method only after 6 months). Her patented “Method” promises results in at least the first month if you practice her video daily for one hour, 4 to 6 times a week. See:

Whilst both DVD work outs are grueling, Tracy Anderson tends to get a little too absorbed in the work out and you feel you are working to keep up with her rather than understand what she is doing as she hardly explains to you why you have to do certain exercises a certain way and to what effect. In that sense I preferred Kristin’s style and delivery as an instructor. However what I found interesting about the Tracy “Method” is her profession that everyone can fight genetics and have what she calls a "teeny tiny dancer's body". She believes that you can eat what you want within reason (of course) and still have the occasional indulgent treat. Music to my ears!

She does not advocate being a gym rat as she claims that going to the gym and doing weights that are too heavy for you actually bulks you up rather than tones your overall physique. Her mat work exercises use thousands of moves and stretches that claim to have been “designed to correct nature's flaws” together with low weights (only up to three pounds) and high reps - 60 for most people, 100 for Madonna. She also has invented an exercise contraption called the "hybrid body reformer", her own version of a Pilates machine to help superstar clients along.

I was actually so inspired after a week of these two videos that I rushed out to buy my 3 pound weights today. Ended up with a pair of hand carried weights (total 2 kgs) and found out that 1 pound is roughly equivalent to 0.45 kgs. My aim of hitting the gym 2 X a week and doing the videos the rest of the time is of course rubbish and so is my desire to stand svelte in my “rad” dress on Chinese New Year when I return home to SG to face the hoards of critical relatives who always tell me how much weight I have put on. 

In any event, it IS the NEW YEAR and there is always room for hope and dreams. I am as you know, the eternal optimist (even though I may be a bit of a dumb bell - pardon the pun, in this instance.) But I concede that life is too short to give up on the tao to fabuliciousness and with that in mind am sharing Tracy Anderson’s top tips (taken from the Guardian UK) See:

DO SHARE your thoughts on the tips below and if you think any of these make good sense (or not). I would love to hear from you. In the meantime, here are Tracy Anderson's top 10 tips - all you need is a spare hour a day, six days a week ... for the rest of your life: 

• Train for one hour a day, six days a week. "Do 30 minutes ofcardio training [dancing, jogging, aerobics] and 30 minutes of muscular structure [weights and stretches]," says Anderson. "Do it six days a week for the rest of your life." Yes, you read that correctly.

• Beware of the gym: the weights are too heavy. "After over-exercising in gyms in my late teens my muscles got very bulky and I was more like a gymnast than a ballet dancer. It looked like somebody threw me in the trash compactor: my neck got really short."

• Instead, learn to dance. "If you want a dancer's body, dance. Dance aerobics is my favourite cardio. It's very frustrating if people think you have to become a dancer to do it - you don't. My DVDs are very user-friendly. You can take one or two combinations a day and learn them."

• Think high reps, low weights. "For me, fitness is all about high repetitions and low resistance. I mean 60 reps with 10 different exercises using weights of three pounds or below."

• Don't just switch off while you're working out. "I have done research about people who think they're doing movements and people - like Madonna and professional dancers - who are actually 'performing' movements. The people who can connect and perform during their workout get results way above and beyond the people who are just going through the motions."

• Watch yourself exercise. "Look at yourself in the mirror and critique yourself and your movements as you would a piece of artwork. Have an opinion about how you are moving."

• But don't beat yourself up that you are not Madonna. "Do you need to train two hours a day? Probably not. The reason why my celebrity clients have to train two hours a day is because their endurance level is so strong. For Madonna to get results and keep results, it's like a professional athlete training - she has to push harder."

• Unless you need to lose weight, eat what you want, but sensibly. "I like for people to be not in their heads about eating [ie they should not get stressed about it]. Food restriction can become a real mental game and I'm not a fan."

• If you do need to lose weight, be strict with yourself, however. "I'm not a fan of dairy for women and I don't like processed foods. Every day I drink a juice with parsley, kale, ginger and apple. I eat lean proteins like fish and chicken as well as quinoa and brown rice."

• Drink as little alcohol as possible. "I drink wine very rarely. Alcohol slows your metabolism for three days after you drink."

Both DVDS are available from

- Elaine


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